Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak remains a free man pending his appeal against conviction and sentence of 12 years’ jail on charges arising from the multibillion-dollar 1MDB corruption scandal. Meanwhile, the winners from his trial were his country’s rule of law and the judiciary, which has been praised for acting without fear or favour. Given Najib’s new-found popularity among Malays in the United Malay National Organisation and influence with so many people in the system, many had expected a different outcome. His conviction shows leaders who do wrong can he held accountable. What matters is the impact of the verdict on Malaysia’s political future. For now, Najib has to sit out an election if one is called. More horse-trading, the norm in Malaysian politics, is to be expected. Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has to accommodate different Malay interests, between Najib’s Umno and Pas, the Islamic party, and those in the eastern parts of Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak, as well as Malays aligned to former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim and former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, and those in his own small party. Never before has the all-important Malay vote split in so many ways. The trial strengthens Muhyiddin’s position. When he was deputy to Najib, he was sacked for criticising Najib’s handling of the 1MDB scandal. The verdict vindicates him, and improves his political standing. 1MDB conviction: will Najib’s Umno party stand by him? He now has an opportunity to knock out a rival. Time is not on his side, given his razor-thin parliamentary majority, but hanging on remains a viable option. While his rivals command more seats in the house, they have no obvious alternative, at least for now. Whatever the judicial outcome, the decisive one remains the multiparty struggle for Malay hearts and minds. It is not unreasonable to expect more uncertainty and turbulence ahead, which does not bode well for regional stability. The judiciary has shown fortitude. Whoever governs in future must preserve this and guard against a return to the days when the judiciary’s independence was put under question. This week, after the political chaos of the past year and notwithstanding the uncertainty ahead, has been a good one for Malaysia.